Australian paediatricians prescribe more psychotropics than any other kind of medication, according to new research.

In 2013, almost 50 per cent of kids with behavioural or mental health diagnoses were given psychotropic medication, and the percentage has been creeping up over time. 

Experts say that, due to the risks associated with mood-changing drugs, paediatricians should be particularly well trained and make sure alternatives to drug-based therapies are also in place.

Psychotropics were prescribed for 46.8 per cent of patients with developmental–behavioural/mental health (DB/MH) diagnoses in 2008, but that figure rose to 49.8 per cent in 2013.

Within this group, in 2013, stimulants were prescribed in 35.3 per cent of DB/MH consultations, antidepressants in 7.8 per cent and antipsychotics in 5.6 per cent.

The next most frequently prescribed drug classes were laxatives (4.6 per cent of all consultations in 2013), asthma preventers (4.1 per cent), melatonin (3.7 per cent), asthma relievers (2.6 per cent) and proton-pump inhibitors (2.2 per cent), topical corticosteroids (1.8 per cent) and antihistamines (1.4 per cent).

The study is accessible here.